Thursday, May 03, 2012
Inquisition with Abazagorath, Morgirion, Nachzehrer, and Herugrim [Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, 4/28/2012]
Saturdays normally I devote to hiking, fitba, and excessive alcohol consumption in and around Cambridge; this show threw that for a loop, but it was an exception I was glad to make, especially as it turned out to be what will surely finish off as one of the highlight shows of the year, if not the top of that stack. It'd seriously somehow been nearly 3 years since the last show at the Middle East Upstairs, but it's a space that's personally associated with really good kvltic black metal shows -- Sigh in '02 and Watain in '07 being particular highlights.
Getting in presented a fair minimum of hassle and delay, and left me enough time to scoop Inquisition's available catalog, though not a shirt (out of fat bastard sizes), and waste several minutes racking my brains to try and remember if I already had Nachzehrer's Pestilence... on CD. I never did recall corectly, but it turns out I didn't; oh well, have to pick it up off them at Horna then.
The Halley's Comet of Boston black metal came around again, with a significantly different lineup than four years ago, but to the same impressive, high-grade effect. The Black Circle casts a really long shadow, to the extent that most of the bands on this gig, like most black metal bands going even now, can be described as having Norwegian elements to them, but there are few that carry that sound forward as legitimately as Herugrim does. This was real black-water-in-the-crag music, even without the woodwind elements (well-done and definitely vindicating the decision to play all of it live on real instruments rather than resorting to keys or playback), and it made a strong impression on the rest of the audience as well. We only got three songs, but Herugrim songs tend to run longer, and the real point is that Herugrim played a show again, which is something that should happen more frequently than it's tended to in the past.
Wilford Grimley (kidding, Steve) leads the line for Herugrim.
I picked up a Herugrim shirt afterwards, but unwilling to stiff the band the last dollar (blame venue beer prices for leaving my wallet out of phase), I doubled up and got a second, which is going to get lugged over unless the band needs their XL back and wants to swap out for a smaller size. It was also around here that I also picked up Abazgorath's available recordings.
Nachzehrer was up from last time back to five members, at least for most of this set, and it manifested itself in a better and more familiar sound, at least once Eric had gotten his axe restrung after blowing a string midway through the second song, and once the band (as per Mark afterwards) had gotten used to the unusual experience of playing with actual working monitors and being able to hear themselves. This was a good, strong, Nachzehrer set, still thrashy but unrepentantly black metal, and if they've done better in the past, it's a certain indicator that they will do better in the future -- in all likelihood, including that gig with Horna and Kommandant next month.
Nachzehrer spitting fire.
This incarnation, at least, of Nachzehrer as a five-piece properly belongs to history; Eric's moved across the country, and that's a bit of a commute for doing local shows. We'll see if they go on with four, or if they decide to get another guitarist in on a permanent basis.
It had been less long since the last time I saw Morgirion, but this was another strong step forward for another really good band. They've ditched the keyboards (at least in this outing), but not the abrasive attitude, or the piss-and-vinegar intensity that characterized this set from start to finish. This was an excellent set of balls-out black metal that stood out even on a night like this where there was a lot of that on offer, and on this evidence, it's more likely than not that Morgirion will follow Ipsissimus (who they were filling in for in this slot) out of the CT scene and into wider recognition.
Connor attempts to devour the mic.
Abzagorath took the sound back in a more Norse direction, generally, over the course of a long, quality set. Some people apparently felt it was too long, and it likely did push the end of the show out further, but I didn't notice much, partly due to gooving on the music and partly due to already, thanks to the heat and the effort spent getting up too early and running around all over the place in the morning, being on the point of falling asleep standing up. It was a slight down-step after Morgirion, but cool music nonetheless, and I wasn't going to begrudge them the time spent playing it.
Nit-pickers will notice that the four arbitrary numbers pasted next to the band names above have all been identical. This does not and should not suggest identical performances, just the truth that what all of these bands provided was within the same generally-wicked-good range. Those who were there will have enough information to impose a total order on what they saw, and those who didn't, well, what the hell was your problem, this didn't finish selling out till like two weeks before. (Those not in the Boston area are exempt from this requirement, but their interest in a total ordering of subjective reactions to this or any other performance is in itself suspect. Read the words, check the bands out on Youtube, and decide for yourself if said words are a load of baloney.)
This set didn't quite get up to the full mark, but it is likely as close as a relatively conventional band like Inquisition is ever going to get as a two-piece. Despite the hypnotic necro-folk nature of a lot of Inquisition's stuff and previous exhausion issues, I didn't fall asleep here either, and got the full measure of an excellent performance. Inquisition can carry off their stuff live as a duo, while Darkthrone apparently can't, and the music only benefits, in the live setting, from less-froggy vocals and the opportunity for mass crowd participation. Maybe it's not kvlt to pound your fist to black metal, but if you're concerned about that, you don't write with such lyric folk rhythms, and you definitely don't make the chorus to "Empire of Lucferian Race" something that some idiot who's never listened to your band before can sing along to after looking at a poster literally once. Fun times, and despite the no-mosh regs and the Cambridge PD showing up to enforce them, nobody got arrested, despite some declarations of intent. Not quite Sigh for capping off a show here, but definitely comparable to Watain.
Rather than hanging around in the vain hope of an encore, I decided to split, aided in this decision by the fact that I was on the point of passing out from exhausion. Somehow, I got out and drove back without falling asleep behind the wheel or bouncing the car off anything for any other reasons, and slept the sleep of the dead well into the second half of the last OF ever (hopefully). More lessons for the summer; this was a long and strenuous day, but it was done in long pants and a longsleeve under my full-weight jacket, and two out of those three parameters are going to be otherwise in Schlotheim....and in Dinkelsbuehl festival composition means I'll probably not have to stay up for the last headliners. Coming next: Metal Thursday, in which Graveheart releases an album OMGWTFBBQ -- and ahead of schedule.